Julia Pannett

Home Insurance

26 Mar 2018

Understanding home and contents insurance

The first thing we need to clarify is that home and contents insurance are actually two separate policies that combine the features of both.

Home insurance covers financial losses associated with damage to or loss of the building itself, and may also be referred to as ‘Building insurance’.

Contents insurance covers financial losses caused by the theft, loss or damage of your possessions within the home.

So now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get into the detail.

1. How do I choose the right home and/or contents Insurance cover?

Choosing the right home and/or contents insurance can help prepare you for the unexpected, but understanding exactly what is and is not covered is crucial if you want to protect your most precious asset – your home.

The first thing you need to consider for your home insurance is whether you want ‘total replacement’ cover – which covers the cost of rebuilding your home exactly as it was, or ‘sum-insured’ cover – the most common type of home insurance which covers your home (building) up to a set amount.

Always shop around for the right level of cover to suit your individual needs, and where possible use comparison tools and calculators available to help you make an informed decision. We recommend trying a few online calculators as the results can vary from company to company. Generally, the more questions asked by the calculator, the more accurate answer you will get to know how much to insure for.

With your contents insurance, it’s a good idea to go through each room in your home and look at all of the items you have, and then work out what the approximate value is of each item. A good tip to remember when you’re doing this is to make sure you open your cupboards and think about things like the food in the pantry or the clothes in your wardrobe – all these items could add up to quite a bit.

2. What is covered by default?

It is important to understand that each insurance policy is different and the finer details should be thoroughly examined with your circumstances in mind; but there's also a generally accepted ‘level of cover’ that all home and content insurance policies cover. These include:

  • Third party liability – if your guests injure themselves on your property you are usually covered to some degree
  • Loss from acts of or attempts to commit theft, burglary or housebreaking
  • Accidental glass breakage of fixed glass
  • Impact from debris from satellite dishes or television aerial or trees

And what isn't covered?

If you ever need to rebuild from scratch then you are not only paying for the costs of labour and materials, you will also be facing a range of ‘supplementary’ costs which may include but not limited to:

  • Architects and/or professional designers and planners
  • Services to make your land/house safe for those working on the property
  • Removal of debris from the site
  • Council applications and local government lodgement costs

You will need to discuss these ‘supplementary costs’ with your individual insurer and make sure you are understand exactly what you are and are not covered for.

3. Can I specify additions and restrictions to my home and contents insurance?

Known as ‘Optional Extras’ – most home and contents insurance policies include these, and it is up to you to determine exactly what is and isn’t considered optional.

Discuss your individual needs with your insurer and read all relevant documentation to ensure your cover is right for you. For example, you may want to include Motor Burnout or pay extra for accidental damage. Most insurancers provide limited ‘accidental damage’ cover, this is something to discuss with your insurer to determine exactly what is and what isn’t covered under their policy.

4. Are there exclusions to what I am covered for by default?

There are often benefit limits on what you can claim. Often this relates to cash and high valuables where you can claim up to a fixed limit. If you own a $25,000 diamond ring for example, you may want to speak with your insurer about additional and potentially specified term cover.

Other exclusions include (but are not limited to):

  • Losses due to theft where you have lost keys (unless there are signs of forced entry)
  • Damage occurring when your house is unoccupied for a period of time
  • Replacement of an entire ‘suite’ in cases where only one section is damaged

Again we strongly recommend that you speak with your individual insurer and read through your policy documents to ensure what you are and are not covered for.

5. How do I make a home and contents insurance claim?

  • You can make a claim for Woolworths Home and Contents insurance through our 'My Insurance Portal'. In the portal you can also access your policies and view your 'Certificates of Insurance'. You may need to fill in a claim form, or speak to your insurer to lodge a claim. 
  • It's best to make your claim as as soon as possible to and advise of any loss and/or damage. Keep any and all supporting documentation, from all sources – Police reports, witnesses’ details etc – and last but not least – cooperate with all assessors and investigators at all stages of the process.
  • Be honest! It speaks for itself that the more details about the incident you can include, the easier it is for the claim process to run smoothly. 


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Any advice provided is general only and may not be right for you. Before you purchase an insurance product you should carefully read the Product Disclosure Statement to decide if it is right for you.